On This Date: October 25th

Oct 25, 1881:
Pablo Picasso born

Pablo Picasso, one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century, is born in Malaga, Spain.

Picasso’s father was a professor of drawing, and he bred his son for a career in academic art. Picasso had his first exhibit at age 13 and later quit art school so he could experiment full-time with modern art styles. He went to Paris for the first time in 1900, and in 1901 was given an exhibition at a gallery on Paris’ rue Lafitte, a street known for its prestigious art galleries. The precocious 19-year-old Spaniard was at the time a relative unknown outside Barcelona, but he had already produced hundreds of paintings. Winning favorable reviews, he stayed in Paris for the rest of the year and later returned to the city to settle permanently.

Pablo Picasso 1962

The work of Picasso, which comprises more than 50,000 paintings, drawings, engravings, sculptures, and ceramics produced over 80 years, is described in a series of overlapping periods. His first notable period–the “blue period”—began shortly after his first Paris exhibit. In works such as The Old Guitarist (1903), Picasso painted in blue tones to evoke the melancholy world of the poor. The blue period was followed by the “rose period,” in which he often depicted circus scenes, and then by Picasso’s early work in sculpture. In 1907, Picasso painted the groundbreaking work Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, which, with its fragmented and distorted representation of the human form, broke from previous European art. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon demonstrated the influence on Picasso of both African mask art and Paul Cezanne and is seen as a forerunner of the Cubist movement, founded by Picasso and the French painter Georges Braque in 1909.

Pablo Picasso, Three Musicians (1921), Museum ...

In Cubism, which is divided into two phases, analytical and synthetic, Picasso and Braque established the modern principle that artwork need not represent reality to have artistic value. Major Cubist works by Picasso included his costumes and sets for Sergey Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes (1917) and The Three Musicians (1921). Picasso and Braque’s Cubist experiments also resulted in the invention of several new artistic techniques, including collage.

After Cubism, Picasso explored classical and Mediterranean themes, and images of violence and anguish increasingly appeared in his work. In 1937, this trend culminated in the masterpiece Guernica, a monumental work that evoked the horror and suffering endured by the Basque town of Guernica when it was destroyed by German war planes during the Spanish Civil War. Picasso remained in Paris during the Nazi occupation but was fervently opposed to fascism and after the war joined the French Communist Party.

Pablo Picasso, Massacre in Korea, 1951

Picasso’s work after World War II is less studied than his earlier creations, but he continued to work feverishly and enjoyed commercial and critical success. He produced fantastical works, experimented with ceramics, and painted variations on the works of other masters in the history of art. Known for his intense gaze and domineering personality, he had a series of intense and overlapping love affairs in his lifetime. He continued to produce art with undiminished force until his death in 1973 at the age of 91.

Also on This Day

American Revolution
Congress petitions English king to address grievances, 1774
Barney Oldfield defeats boxer Jack Johnson in Brooklyn auto race, 1910
Civil War
Keel of the USS Monitor is laid, 1861
Cold War
The U.N. seats the People’s Republic of China and expels Taiwan, 1971
United States invades Grenada, 1983
Susan Smith reports a false carjacking to cover her murder, 1994
Russian military plane crashes into mountain, 2000
General Interest
Battle of Agincourt, 1415
Charge of the Light Brigade, 1854
Cabinet member guilty in Teapot Dome scandal, 1929
“Camelot,” “Harry Potter” star Richard Harris dies, 2002
Henry Fielding becomes justice of the peace, 1748
Australian rock gods AC/DC earn their first Top 40 hit with “You Shook Me All Night Long”, 1980
Old West
Indians attack transcontinental railroad survey crew in Utah, 1853
John Adams marries Abigail Smith, 1764
Wrestling legend Dan Gable is born, 1948
Vietnam War
Nixon suspends bombing of North Vietnam, 1972
Nixon vetoes War Powers Resolution, 1973
World War I
French troops celebrate recapture of Fort Douaumont at Verdun , 1916
World War II
First kamikaze attack of the war begins, 1944
This Week in History, Oct 25 – Oct 31

Oct 25, 1881
Pablo Picasso born
Oct 26, 1881
Shootout at the OK Corral
Oct 27, 1904
New York City subway opens
Oct 28, 1965
Gateway Arch completed
Oct 29, 1998
John Glenn returns to space
Oct 30, 1938
Welles scares nation
Oct 31, 1517
Martin Luther posts 95 theses

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